Thanks to the kindness of strangers, a 93-year-old American veteran will be reunited with his girlfriend from World War II after a separation that spanned continents and seven decades.
Norwood Thomas will fly next month, free of charge, to Australia, where he will visit his former wartime sweetheart Joyce Morris, who is 88.
Ever since a November story appeared in The Virginian-Pilot about Thomas having a joyous Skype conversation with Morris after 70 years apart, donations have poured in.
Thomas lives on a fixed income in Virginia. Morris, whose eyesight is declining, lives in Adelaide, where she moved with her husband after the end of World War II.
His wife and her husband are gone. But the living, former sweethearts wanted to see each other again after all these years. Now they shall.
About $7,500 has been donated thus far and Air New Zealand provided two tickets for Thomas and his son, Steve, who is his caregiver.
Asked by INSIDED EDITION Wednesday if he was excited about the upcoming reunion, Thomas replied, "A bit."
"Not nervous. Nothing to be nervous about," he answered.
He was a parachutist with the 101st Airborne when he went to Britain. He had signed up to fight Hitler in 1942 at the age of 19.
He and a buddy were in a London suburb, on a bridge overlooking the Thames, when they spied two young women "down on the river in a boat," he told IE. "So my friend and I walked down and suggested we rent two boats, so they could row us around for a while," he said.
That line really worked?
"Apparently so," he said, and chuckled.
"From there it developed into something much more intense," he said, providing no details, as befits a southern gentleman.
They went their separate ways after Thomas shipped out. Both married. Life went on.
In Australia, Thomas plans to visit museums with his old love. There will be much to talk about. The plane journey will be long, but "it won't be hard, because it's first class," he said, and chuckled again.
"I'll just take it as comes," he said. "I've found that is the way to get through most of life."